One student shares her experience of working as a peer helper at her school
By Hannah Forest
Being a peer helper is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I am so grateful to be able to share my outlook on peer helping with all of you. Peer helpers was a program at my elementary school. This program was extracurricular, but it did take up a bit of school time.
Mrs. Karen Pothier, a teacher at my elementary school, coordinated the peer helper team. Being a peer helper meant a whole new opportunity to do something really good for kids in my school. Peer helpers are outside during recess. They are there if you need to talk to someone, and are having a really rough day. Peer helpers do peer mediation, which means if you’re having a conflict with a friend, the peer helper assists in fixing the problem. Peer helping is a way to prepare for real-life conflicts.
I am now in junior high and peer helpers helped me find a more positive outlook on life. I have learned that, as there are two sides to every fairytale, there are two sides to every conflict. I think peer helping has opened me up to a more colourful and understanding world. I can now tell when I hurt someone’s feelings, even if it’s just supposed to be a joke, and can apologize very quickly.
I remember on my first day of peer helpers training, I was so nervous. I had no clue if any of my friends were even going to be in the program. I walked into the room and saw so many of my friends, but I also saw so many people I hadn’t met yet.
After the first day of training, I actually felt closer to my peers and more responsible. But after a while, I got really stressed out. I felt like all my peers were doing better than I was, and I was seriously thinking about quitting. We had another meeting soon, and I was still feeling like quitting the team, until our first topic was brought up.
Mrs. Pothier asked, “Who is feeling stressed?” Almost everyone, including me, raised their hands. I felt better because one of the biggest lessons that peer helpers taught me is that you’re never alone. There is always at least one person in the world that feels exactly as you do.
There are so many reasons why this program is amazing and helpful. If any schools want to help students get closer to their peers, this is definitely the right program.
Hannah Forest is a Grade 6 student at Sackville Heights Junior High School. She is a former member of peer helpers and enjoys singing and performing.